Saturday, July 31, 2021

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Latest Half-Dozen Posts (Full Text)

COVID - Now What Do We Do?

Why does the CDC keep changing its mind?

If we're vaccinated why do we have to wear masks either indoors or outdoors?

If you want professional advice go to the CDC, or ask your doctor. If you're interested in my take, read on.

We all need a better understanding of "science." I don't mean memorizing the Periodic Table of the Elements, explaining quantum physics, or conducting an experiment from a textbook. I mean the process of science, "the scientific method."

This is what the former president of Harvard, James B. Conant wrote about in his book On Understanding Science (1947). As the Yale Books edition describes it, "a historical view of a number of the great scientists, of what their generation knew of their subjects, of the problem they set out to examine, and of how they solved it. Thus the reader is enabled to follow in a new way the scientific method at work, with all its limitations and wonders." https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300136555/understanding-science.


CDC did not flip-flop, or "change their mind." They were correct, with the data they then had, that if you were vaccinated it was extremely unlikely you would be infected (with or without symptoms) by the Alpha strain of COVID -- the one we confronted in 2020 and early 2021.

The Delta variant is an entirely different virus. It creates 1000 times more virus particles in our respiratory tract than the earlier variety; more to spread to those around us. It's more deadly. It travels faster, infecting more people. It's now the cause of over 80% of all COVID infections and 97% of COVID hospitalizations.

We were warned that if we did not do the test, trace, quarantine and isolate that successful countries were doing, we could have as many as 600,000 dead and even more deadly variants. We did not follow this advice. We did have 600,000 unnecessary deaths, and we now have the much more deadly variant Delta.

As the Delta variant spread, the CDC and others were able to gather data indicating how it differed from the Alpha -- data that obviously could not have existed prior to the arrival of the Delta variant.

What that data shows is that the vaccine can protect almost all of us from the Delta, almost all of the time, from hospitalization and death. What it cannot do, apparently, is protect us from infection -- with or without symptoms -- and thereby infecting others (as it was able to protect us, and them, from the Alpha). https://www.npr.org/2021/07/22/1019130146/delta-variant-grows-rapidly-inside-a-persons-respiratory-tract-study-says

Thus, we may become infected with Delta from both those who have not been vaccinated, and from those who are! Once infected, we can pass the infection to our children, other family and friends.

And that's why the CDC did not flip-flop in its advice, and why those of us who are vaccinated still need to mask up when indoors or in crowds outdoors.

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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Who Can Sue?

Lawsuits Aren't Limited to Humans
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, July 24, 2021, p. 5A

Who Can Sue?

What if democracy could, to quote former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, “sue for its own preservation?”

Stick with me. This is a short column. The idea’s not as crazy as it may first sound.

Lawyers file lawsuits.

Most of their clients are adult people, specifically Homo sapiens – a species in which lawyers also claim membership.

But not all clients are people.

The creative minds of Roman lawyers, 40 or 50 years before Christ would have had an opportunity to stop them, conceived and gave birth to one of today’s lawyers’ most lucrative source of clients: “corporations.”

You can’t invite one to dinner. They’re only figments of lawyers’ imaginations, nonhuman, and occasionally inhuman.

Yet the nine Supremes invite these zombies into their Court and treat them as legal persons. The Court’s even ruled corporations’ political contributions can metamorphose into First Amendment-protected “speech.”

Admiralty law, from Roman times to the present, treats ships as legal persons.

Young children, unlikely to contact lawyers, are legal persons.

Zoologists classify us as mammals – in a sub-group identified as the Great Apes. So it’s only logical that other species, despite animals’ apprehension regarding lawyers, have been granted legal person status.

The Iowa Code, Section 717B.3, gives animals the legal right to good nutrition; plenty of clean water; sanitary conditions; a shelter with bedding and protection from wind, rain, snow sun, cold and dampness; and. professional healthcare.

That list would be a good starting place for what we should guarantee our species – and the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights agrees.


While clerking for Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black I learned of Justice Douglas’ love of nature from conversation, his books and short group walks along the C & O Canal. Years later he advanced the notion of environmental personhood in his opinion in the Sierra Club case, citing Christopher D. Stone’s article (now book), Should Trees Have Standing?--Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects, a law review article of mine, and many other sources. (Photo credit: trees and lake, commons.Wikimedia.org)

Noting that corporations and ships get legal person status he argued that “environmental objects” should receive no less. They should be able to “sue for their own preservation.”

Why not? If lawyers can create corporate legal persons out of vapor why not our more tangible bodies of water? Two rivers in India, a mountain and river in New Zealand, and more in Bolivia, Columbia and Ecuador enjoy environmental personhood.

Iowa, of all states, has an economic as well as moral interest in giving our land, rivers and lakes the right to “sue for their own preservation.”

How about our “democracy”? It’s more real and deserving of the legal right to protect itself than corporations. It requires educated citizens with voting rights, and judges and journalists with independence and integrity. Refusals to accept election results, cutting schools’ budgets, or saying media are “the enemy of the people” are attacks on democracy itself.

It’s long past time we grant democracy the right to “sue for its own preservation.”
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Nicholas Johnson, Iowa City, is the author of Columns of Democracy. mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org
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SOURCES

Corporations; history; 44-49 BC. Corporation, https://https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation

Corporation as “citizen” of state. Louisville, C. & C.R. Co. v. Letson, 43 U.S. 497 (1844), https:// https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/43/497.html

Corporations; entitled to political participation. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S 310 (2010), Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_person#United_States

Corporations as inhumane. “2005 List: the 14 Worst Corporate Evildoers,” Global Exchange, International Labor Rights Forum, Dec. 12, 2005, https://laborrights.org/in-the-news/2005-list-14-worst-corporate-evildoers

Other legal persons. U.S. government, U.S. v. The Cooper Corp., 312 U.S. 600 (1941); counties . Counties, Cook County v. U.S. ex rel Chandler, 538 U.S. 119 (2003)

Admiralty law. Nicholas Joseph Healy, “Maritime law,” Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/maritime-law/Components-of-maritime-law. (“[T]he most distinctive feature of admiralty practice is the proceeding in rem, against maritime property, that is, a vessel …. Under American maritime law, the ship is personified to the extent that it may sometimes be held responsible under circumstances in which the shipowner himself is under no liability.)

Children’s legal rights. “What Are the Legal Rights of Children?” Findlaw, March 18, 2019, https://www.findlaw.com/family/emancipation-of-minors/what-are-the-legal-rights-of-children.html (“children are entitled to a safe environment, good nutrition, healthcare, and education. Although parents have the right to raise their children as they see fit, if a child is not safe, the state will remove the children from their home. Parents are required to meet the child's basic needs.”)

Humans are mammals, Great Apes. Beth Blaxland, “Humans are mammals,” Australian Museum, Oct. 22, 2020, https:// https://australian.museum/learn/science/human-evolution/humans-are-mammals/ (“Humans are also classified within: the subgroup of mammals called primates; and the subgroup of primates called apes and in particular the 'Great Apes'”)

Zoologists. “Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/mobile/zoologists-and-wildlife-biologists.htm

Animals legal rights. Iowa Code Section 717B.3 (1) (a)-(f). a. Access to food in an amount and quality reasonably sufficient to satisfy the animal’s basic nutrition level to the extent that the animal’s health or life is endangered. b. Access to a supply of potable water in an amount reasonably sufficient to satisfy the animal’s basic hydration level to the extent that the animal’s health or life is endangered. Access to snow or ice does not satisfy this requirement. c. Sanitary conditions free from excessive animal waste or the overcrowding of animals to the extent that the animal’s health or life is endangered. d. Ventilated shelter reasonably sufficient to provide adequate protection from the elements and weather conditions suitable for the age, species, and physical condition of the animal so as to maintain the animal in a state of good health to the extent that the animal’s health or life is endangered. The shelter must protect the animal from wind, rain, snow, or sun and have adequate bedding to provide reasonable protection against cold and dampness. A shelter may include a residence, garage, barn, shed, or doghouse. e. Grooming, to the extent it is reasonably necessary to prevent adverse health effects or suffering. f. Veterinary care deemed necessary by a reasonably prudent person ….

Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 25 (1). https://www.un.org/ en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights (“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”)

Public Trust Doctrine case. IOWA CITIZENS FOR COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT and FOOD & WATER WATCH vs. STATE OF IOWA et al, Iowa Supreme Court, 19-1644. June 18, 2021, https://www.iowacourts.gov/courtcases/11808/embed/SupremeCourtOpinion (“remand with instructions to dismiss this case based on lack of standing and nonjusticiability.”) me: rights of people rather than the water

Environmental personhood. “Environmental personhood,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_personhood – New Zealand, India, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia

Denis Binder, “Perspectives on Forty Years of Environmental Law,” George Washington Journal of Energy & Environmental Law, June 2013, https://gwjeel.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/3-2-binder.pdf (pp. 148-149)

Christopher D. Stone. "Should Trees Have Standing--Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects." Southern California Law Review 45 (1972): 450; SHOULD TREES HAVE STANDING? TOWARD LEGAL RIGHTS FOR NATURAL OBJECTS. By Christopher D. Stone.' Los Altos, California: William Kaufman, Inc. 1974. Pp. xvii, 102. $6.95. Reviewed by Tom R. Moore https://ir.law.fsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1753&context=lr – pp. 672-675

Christopher D. Stone, “Should Trees Have Standing?—Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects,“ https://iseethics.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/stone-christopher-d-should-trees-have-standing.pdf

2020 3d edition: https://www.amazon.com/Should-Trees-Have-Standing-Environment/dp/0199736073/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Christopher+D.+Stone%2C+%E2%80%9CShould+Trees+Have+Standing%3F&qid=1626820118&s=books&sr=1-1&asin=0199736073&revisionId=&format=4&depth=1

Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727 (1972) (727-780), https://www.loc.gov/item/usrep405727/; WOD dissent 741-755 (“Contemporary public concern for protecting nature's ecological equilibrium should lead to the conferral of standing upon environmental objects to sue for their own preservation.” 741-742

p. 742 “A ship has a legal personality, a fiction found useful for maritime purposes.” Fn2 in rem, salvage, collision

p. 743. [As with corporations and ships] “So it should be as respects valleys, alpine meadows, rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches, ridges, groves of trees, swampland, or even air that feels the destructive pressures of modern technology and modern life. The river, for example, is the living symbol of all the life it sustains or nourishes-fish, aquatic insects, water ouzels, otter, fisher, deer, elk, bear, and all other animals, including man, who are dependent on it or who enjoy it for its sight, its sound, or its life. The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is part of it. Those people who have a meaningful relation to that body of water-whether it be a fisherman, a canoeist, a zoologist, or a logger-must be able to speak for the values which the river represents and which are threatened with destruction.”

p. 749-750 “[Given the often domination of regulatory agencies by the supposedly regulated] The voice of the inanimate object, therefore, should not be stilled. That does not mean that the judiciary takes over the managerial functions from the federal agency. It merely means that before these priceless bits of Americana (such as a valley, an alpine meadow, a river, or a lake) are forever lost or are so transformed as to be reduced to the eventual rubble of our urban environment, the voice of the existing beneficiaries of these environmental wonders should be heard. Perhaps they will not win. Perhaps the bulldozers of "progress" will plow under all the aesthetic wonders of this beautiful land. That is not the present question. The sole question is, who has standing to be heard?”

Justice Blackman, Douglas Appendix, pp. 755-756: “If this were an ordinary case, I would join the opinion and the Court's judgment and be quite content.

But this is not ordinary, run-of-the-mill litigation. The case poses-if only we choose to acknowledge and reach them-significant aspects of a wide, growing, and disturbing problem, that is, the Nation's and the world's deteriorating environment with its resulting ecological disturbances. Must our law be so rigid and our procedural concepts so inflexible that we render ourselves helpless when the existing methods and the traditional concepts do not quite fit and do not prove to be entirely adequate for new issues?”}

Rivers. Legal person, Wikipedia, https://https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_person (“The Whanganui River was granted legal personality in March 2017 under New Zealand law because the Whanganui Māori tribe regard the river as their ancestor.[17]”(“17. Roy, Eleanor Ainge (16 March 2017). "New Zealand river granted same legal rights as human being". The Guardian. London, United Kingdom. Retrieved 2017-03-16.”)

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Wednesday, July 07, 2021

How Do You Know?

What to Believe or How to Think?
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, July 7, 2021, p. 6

A lifelong friend we’ll call “Ralph” told me his father always asked, upon Ralph’s return from school, “Did they teach you what to believe, or did they teach you how to think?”

The Harvard Business Review published “Why China Can’t Innovate” and concluded, “The problem . . . is not . . . the Chinese people . . . but the political world in which their schools . . . need to operate, which is very much bounded.”

Americans’ innovative, entrepreneurial, economic, artistic and intellectual comparative success is largely driven by the educators who have taught us “how to think.”

As you may have noticed, for the past six years America has been sliding from the “shining city on a hill” down toward the pit of authoritarian dictatorship with the uncontrolled speed of a kid on a plastic sledding saucer in winter.

A democracy can no more stand without supporting institutions than a beach home can stand without pilings. Democracies need their respected and protected “columns of democracy” – professional, independent, journalists; wise, impartial, non-partisan judges; electoral procedures that encourage ever-increasing numbers of voters – and dedicated public school educators teaching students “how to think.”


President Thomas Jefferson wished “most to be remembered” as “Father of the University of Virginia,” not president. Iowa’s early 12,000 schools made it number one. When I was teaching at UC Berkeley, California’s tuition-free education fueled its position as, today, the world’s fifth greatest economy. [Photo Credit: Iowa Department of Education (“Here is the original well of an 1800s school house located near Shellsburg in Benton County.”) And see, Tom Morain, “One-Room Schools,” Iowa Pathways, Iowa PBS, undated, https://www.iowapbs.org/iowapathways/mypath/one-room-schools (“The first schoolhouse in Iowa was built in 1830 in Lee County.”)]

Educators’ freedom is as essential to our economy as to our democracy and our “pursuit of happiness.”

Chinese journalists explained to me the freedoms they have – so long as they don’t use the wrong words.

Fortunately, the Iowa Commissar of Acceptable K-12 Vocabulary does not understand education.

Some years ago, I was asked to speak to Iowa’s National Issues Forum high school students at the Herbert Hoover Library. I shared a basic general semantics tool: “What Do You Mean and How Do You Know?” (Asking yourself and others, “What facts brought you to the verbal generalizations you just used?” and, “What were your sources supporting that conclusion? Why do you believe them reliable?”) The technique was successfully used by a couple Metro High School teachers after that talk, became the subject of a doctoral dissertation, and a published book.

Teachers should ask their school board’s lawyer about HF 802's restrictions. But as I read it, teachers are free to present, or better have students find, historic facts about African-Americans’ lives during the last 400 years; answer students’ questions; ask students, “How do you know?” and let them draw their own conclusions and generalizations. In other words, teaching them “how to think” and evaluate research. Like Chinese journalists, Iowa’s teachers still have their freedom to teach – just so long as they don’t use the Commissar’s forbidden words and phrases.

Ralph’s dad understood education. So do Iowa’s teachers. It’s just a little more challenging to teach, or do journalism, within an authoritarian dictatorship.
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Nicholas Johnson, Iowa City, is the author of Columns of Democracy and What Do You Mean and How Do You Know? Contact: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

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SOURCES
Regina M. Abrami, William C. Kirby, and F. Warren McFarlan, “Why China Can’t Innovate,” Harvard Business Review, March 2014, https://hbr.org/2014/03/why-china-cant-innovate (the full last paragraph reads, ““The problem, we think, is not the innovative or intellectual capacity of the Chinese people, which is boundless, but the political world in which their schools, universities, and businesses need to operate, which is very much bounded.”)

Courtney Vinopal, “2 out of 3 Americans believe U.S. democracy is under threat,” PBS, July 2, 2021. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/2-out-of-3-americans-believe-u-s-democracy-is-under-threat

“City on a hill.” Matthew 5:14; Ronald Reagan’s use, “A Vision for America,” Nov. 3, 1980, “City upon a Hill,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_upon_a_Hill

Amy Meadows, “How to Install Piling for a Beach House,” https://www.ehow.com/how_7891751_install-piling-beach-house.html

Democracy’s supporting institutions. Columns of Democracy (2018)

Jefferson’s epitaph. “Jefferson’s Gravestone,” Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia, Jefferson Monticello, https://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/jeffersons-gravestone (“Before his death, Thomas Jefferson left explicit instructions regarding the monument to be erected over his grave. In this undated document, Jefferson supplied a sketch of the shape of the marker, and the epitaph with which he wanted it to be inscribed:
"... on the faces of the Obelisk the following inscription, & not a word more:

Here was buried Thomas Jefferson Author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom & Father of the University of Virginia

"because by these," he explained, "as testimonials that I have lived, I wish most to be remembered.")
12,000 Iowa schools. “A walk through Iowa’s one-room schoolhouses,” Iowa Department of Education, https://educateiowa.gov/walk-through-iowa-s-one-room-schoolhouses (“more . . . than any other state in the union”)

Tom Morain, “One-Room Schools,” Iowa Pathways, Iowa PBS, undated, https://www.iowapbs.org/iowapathways/mypath/one-room-schools (“The first schoolhouse in Iowa was built in 1830 in Lee County.”)

California tuition-free education. Lilia Vega, “The history of UC tuition since 1868,” The Daily Clog, The Daily Californian, Dec. 22, 2014, https://www.dailycal.org/2014/12/22/history-uc-tuition-since-1868/

“Economy of California,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_California (“If California were a sovereign nation (2019), it would rank as the world's fifth largest economy, ahead of India and behind Germany.”)

Theodore R. Breton, “The Role of Education in Economic Growth: Theory, History and Current Returns,” Educational Research, v55 n2 p121-138 2013, https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1036518, (“The paper presents evidence that education has direct and indirect effects on national output. Educated workers raise national income directly because schooling raises their marginal productivity.”)

What do you mean? What Do You Mean and How Do You Know? (2009), ch. 5, p. 49

Use in Metro High School. Although the author used the Metro experience as a major part of the book, Metro was presented as an anonymous high school. Jane Bolgatz, Talking Race in the Classroom (2005)

The law prohibiting reference to such words and phrases as “systemic racism” originated as House File 802, and can now be found, as enrolled, at https://tinyurl.com/myesry7j

Samantha Hernandez and Ian Richardson, “Iowa Poll: More than half of Iowans oppose new law limiting certain concepts from racism, sexism training,” Des Moines Register, June 29, 2021, https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/iowa-poll/2021/06/29/iowa-poll-law-targeting-critical-race-theory-schools-ban-teaching-some-racism-sexism-concepts/7720792002

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Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Ask Your Doctor

NOTE: In one of those uncany coincidences that occasionally occur, on the same day The Gazette published this column, below, its lead story -- page one, above the fold -- was the FDA's approval of the sale of Biogen's version of the Alzheimer drug aducanumab they call Aduhelm, "despite a scathing assessment in November by the FDA’s outside panel of neurological experts." The price of this questionable drug? $56,000 a year. Matthew Perrone, "FDA approves much-debated Alzheimer’s drug panned by experts," Associated Press, June 7, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/science-government-and-politics-business-health-2147d824af9cfde629041d83d9ca7a8d

Ask Your Doctor About Big Pharma Ads;
Another Example of Americans Paying Corporations to Join Their Sales Force


Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, June 8, 2021, p. 6A

“Ask your doctor if your purchase of this over-priced, patent-protected, copy of a generic drug, with its possible hazardous side effects might be right for our shareholders.”

In 2001 global pharmaceutical sales were $390 billion. In 2020 they were $1.27 trillion.

In 2018 the pharma industry spent $6.46 billion on direct-to-consumer (DTC) “ask your doctor” TV commercials – enlisting you and me to help boost their sales. (It also spent nearly $30 billion wooing doctors with speaking fees, travel, meals, free samples and “education.”)

When I was young, companies paid people to walk around downtown Iowa City wearing small advertising billboards. Today people pay companies to display company names and logos on their hats, shirts, pants and shoes.

Persuading doctors to write prescriptions for drugs we don’t need, may cause harm, or with no more significant benefits than generics, may be another example of our paying corporations to join their sales force.

But it’s much more serious. The West Health Policy Center reports “If current drug pricing trends continue [some patients’ inability to pay those prices] will result in the premature deaths of 112,000 beneficiaries a year, making it a leading cause of death in the U.S., ahead of diabetes, influenza, pneumonia, and kidney disease.”

Once again, “We’re Number One!” We’re number one in defense spending, and percentage of persons in prisons – and now “ask your doctor” commercials.

But this time we’re not just number one, we are almost the only one. Only two countries permit advertising drugs directly to consumers. (New Zealand permits it, but robust opposition continues.)

We go to doctors because few patients are equipped to self-diagnose or choose remedies. The American Medical Association made a strong case for banning the ads. It was unsuccessful. [Photo credit: patients asking their doctor; Rhoda Baer, commons.wikimedia.org]

How can this be? Every year between 1999 and 2018 the pharmaceutical industry spent an average of $1.5 billion on political contributions and lobbying.

Isn’t it kind of weird to advertise a product to those legally forbidden to buy it? We can’t go into a drug store and buy this stuff. We must nag our doctor for the permission slip called a “prescription.”

Want an analogy? Think about TV ads for toys on children’s programs. Aside from a handful of young, energetic entrepreneurs – and kids with advanced degrees in parental manipulation – children cannot buy what the capitalists are advertising.

That’s like big pharma’s “ask your doctor” TV spots – except we’re now the children and the doctors are our parents.

Listening to the FDA-required itemization of side effects makes you question whether it is “right for you” – or anyone else. But you don’t listen, because the commercial keeps telling you, “Oh, look at the squirrel.” See the happy grandparents with their happy grandchildren; the couple fishing or swimming in the lake or lovingly watching the sunset from the deck of their $400,000 summer cabin.

There are things capitalism can do better than public programs. Providing the pharmaceutical portion of our nation’s healthcare is not one of them.
_____________
Nicholas Johnson, former co-director, Institute for Health, Behavior and Environmental Policy, is the author of What Do You Mean and How Do You Know? mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

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Sources Embedded in Text

“Ask your doctor if your purchase of this over-priced, patent-protected, copy of a generic drug, with its possible hazardous side effects might be right for our shareholders.”

In 2001 global pharmaceutical sales were $390 billion. In 2020 they were $1.27 trillion.
“Revenue of the worldwide pharmaceutical market from 2001 to 2020,” Statista, May 4, 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/263102/pharmaceutical-market-worldwide-revenue-since-2001/
In 2018 the pharma industry spent $6.46 billion on direct-to-consumer (DTC) “ask your doctor” TV commercials – enlisting you and me to help boost their sales. (It also spent nearly $30 billion wooing doctors with speaking fees, travel, meals, free samples and “education.”)
“Direct-to-consumer spending of the pharmaceutical industry in the United States from 2012 to September 2019,” Statista, Sept. 24, 2020, https://www.statista.com/statistics/686906/pharma-ad-spend-usa/

Roopal Luhana, “Pharmaceutical Companies Paid Billions to Doctors in 2018: Influencing Prescriptions?” New York Injury Law News, Legal Examiner, Aug. 2, 2019, https://newyork.legalexaminer.com/health/pharmaceutical-companies-paid-billions-to-doctors-in-2018-influencing-prescriptions/
When I was young, companies paid people to walk around downtown Iowa City wearing small advertising billboards. Today people pay companies to display company names and logos on their hats, shirts, pants and shoes.

Persuading doctors to write prescriptions for drugs we don’t need, may cause harm, or with no more significant benefits than generics may be another example of our paying corporations to join their sales force.

But it’s much more serious. The West Health Policy Center reports “If current drug pricing trends continue [some patients’ inability to pay those prices] will result in the premature deaths of 112,000 beneficiaries a year, making it a leading cause of death in the U.S., ahead of diabetes, influenza, pneumonia, and kidney disease.”
“More than 1.1 million deaths among Medicare recipients due to high cost of drugs,” West Health Institute, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), EurekAlert!, Nov. 19, 2020, https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/whi-mt1111820.php
Once again, “We’re Number One!” We’re number one in defense spending, and percentage of persons in prisons – and now “ask your doctor” commercials.
Aran Ali, “Mapped: The World’s Top Countries for Military Spending,” Visual Capitalist, May 15, 2021, https://www.visualcapitalist.com/worlds-top-countries-for-military-spending/

“Countries with the largest number of prisoners per 100,000 of the national population, as of May 2021,” Statista, June 2, 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/262962/countries-with-the-most-prisoners-per-100-000-inhabitants/
But this time we’re not just number one, we are almost the only one. Only two countries permit advertising drugs directly to consumers. (New Zealand permits it, but robust opposition continues.)
Susan Kelly, “U.S. doctor group calls for ban on drug advertising to consumers,” Reuters, Nov. 17, 2015, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pharmaceuticals-advertising/u-s-doctor-group-calls-for-ban-on-drug-advertising-to-consumers-idUSKCN0T62WT20151117 (“The United States and New Zealand are the only two countries that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs.”)

Beth Snyder Bulik, “Doctors in New Zealand—the only non-U.S. country that allows DTC advertising—call for bans,” Fierce Pharma, March 20, 2017, https://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing/doctors-new-zealand-only-other-country-allows-dtc-advertising-hate-it-too

“Statement from New Zealand Public Health Experts on Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs (relating to Consumer NZ Poll),” Media Release from University of Otago, New Zealand Doctor, August 7, 2019, https://www.nzdoctor.co.nz/article/undoctored/statement-new-zealand-public-health-experts-direct-consumer-advertising

Joel Lexchin, David B. Menkes, “Can Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs be Effectively Regulated?” New Zealand Medical Journal, no date, dates on footnoted material go to 2019, https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal-articles/can-direct-to-consumer-advertising-of-prescription-drugs-be-effectively-regulated (Conclusion: “Taken together with international evidence that regulation has consistently failed to prevent the inappropriate promotion of prescription drugs, these findings suggest that DTCA is more likely to cause harm than benefit and should be banned.”)

Raktim Kumar Ghosh, Samhati Mondai Ghosh, “Drug advertisements: what a physician should know,” The New Zealand Medical Journal, vol. 123, no. 1314, May 14 2010, https://assets-global.website-files.com/5e332a62c703f653182faf47/5e332a62c703f6f72e2fd7ea_kumar.pdf
We go to doctors because few patients are equipped to self-diagnose or choose remedies. The American Medical Association made a strong case for banning the ads. It was unsuccessful.
Dan Mangan, “Americans Oppose Fast Approvals, Want Drug Ads Off TV: Survey,” NBC News, May 11, 2016, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-care/americans-oppose-fast-approvals-want-drug-ads-tv-survey-n572301 (“the American Medical Association, the nation's largest physicians' group, called for a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs and medical devices.”)
How can this be? Every year between 1999 and 2018 the pharmaceutical industry spent an average of $1.5 billion on political contributions and lobbying.
Olivier J. Wouters, “Lobbying Expenditures and Campaign Contributions by the Pharmaceutical and Health Product Industry in the United States, 1999-2018,” JAMA Internal Medicine, March 3, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7054854/
Isn’t it kind of weird to advertise a product to those legally forbidden to buy it? We can’t go into a drug store and buy this stuff. We must nag our doctor for the permission slip called a “prescription.”

Want an analogy? Think about TV ads for toys on children’s programs. Aside from a handful of young, energetic entrepreneurs – and kids with advanced degrees in parental manipulation – children cannot buy what the capitalists are advertising.

That’s like big pharma’s “ask your doctor” TV spots – except we’re now the children and the doctors are our parents.

Listening to the FDA-required itemization of side effects makes you question whether it is “right for you” – or anyone else. But you don’t listen, because the commercial keeps telling you, “Oh, look at the squirrel.” See the happy grandparents with their happy grandchildren; the couple fishing or swimming in the lake or lovingly watching the sunset from the deck of their $400,000 summer cabin.

There are things capitalism can do better than public programs. Providing the pharmaceutical portion of our nation’s healthcare is not one of them.
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Monday, May 17, 2021

Freedom Has Responsibilities

We Are Responsible for Saving Democracy
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, May 17, 2021, p. 5A

Fans of the Seinfeld TV show may remember when Jerry discovered the rental car company had no cars.

Clerk: “Unfortunately, we ran out of cars.”

Jerry: “But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have reservations.”

“I know why we have reservations.”

“I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation. You just don’t know how to hold the reservation. And that’s really the most important part of the reservation.”

Freedom is like rental car reservations. It comes with responsibilities -- sometimes the most important part of the freedom.

As in, “Your freedom to swing your fist stops where my nose begins.”

Visiting my uncle’s farm for the first time as a young boy, I followed him out of the cow pasture but failed to close the gate. He kindly explained, “When the cattle get out they’re hard to catch.” That made sense to me. My freedom to wander the farm required my responsibility to close the gates.

Jim Jefferies, an Australian stand-up comedian, compares Americans’ and Australians’ response to mass shootings. As he tells it, during a 10-year stretch there were 10 mass shootings. The next year, 1996, was the worst one. Since then there have been none. Why? The government announced, “That’s it. No more guns.” To which, Jeffrey says, Australians responded, “Yeah, well, all right then, that seems fair enough.” An exaggeration? Of course. It’s not easy to get a laugh out of mass murder.

But it makes a point. Like my closing gates, because restricting guns made sense to Australians they were willing to accept it.

The people in many countries responded that way to their leadership’s COVID global pandemic mandates.

Their leaders said, in effect, “There’s a global pandemic; already one or two cases here. If we do nothing thousands will die. You will all be tested. Those positive will be isolated. Those they have contacted will be quarantined. Everyone will wear masks and keep their distance.”

And their people responded, like the Australians, “Yeah, well, all right then, that seems fair enough.” Thousands of lives were saved.

In America, our leaders did not take that path, in part because many of our people rejected it. “You’re taking away my freedoms,” they cried. “What freedoms?” we asked. “My freedoms to refuse to be vaccinated, to not wear a mask, to go wherever I want while spreading a life-threatening disease.”

The results? With 4 percent of the world’s population our “freedoms” produced 18 percent of the world’s COVID deaths. Nearly 600,000 Americans died needlessly for others’ “freedoms.”

Similarly, if we are to retain our representative democracy we must accept our responsibility to strengthen the institutions and follow the norms that make it possible. [Photo credit: Johnson County Democrats Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/jcdemsiowa/. A few of the 300+ folks at the Nominating Convention (Democratic candidate for County Supervisor), May 11, 2021, Johnson County, Iowa, Fairgrounds.]

As many countries have discovered, the “freedoms” to storm the Capitol, make it harder to vote, gerrymander districts, promote the big lie and the oligarchy’s wealth while ignoring public needs, are road signs on the path to authoritarian dictatorships. [Photo credit: Mary Vasey.]
__________
Nicholas Johnson, Iowa City, is the author of Columns of Democracy. Contact: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org
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Sources

Jerry Seinfeld’s car reservation. https://subslikescript.com/series/Seinfeld-98904/season-3/episode-11-The_Alternate_Side SEINFELD (1989–1998): SEASON 3, EPISODE 11 - THE ALTERNATE SIDE - FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jim Jefferies on guns. YouTube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rR9IaXH1M0 (first 00:01:07)

Countries with effective response. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-30/seven-countries-with-better-coronavirus-response-than-australia/13102988 (see New Zealand, Vietnam, Iceland)

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-56455030 (South Korea)

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01248-1 (current research on containment measures effectiveness; Hong Kong; Germany and Austria); see also https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-020-01009-0 (research)

US 4% population, 18% deaths (May 11, 2021). https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/; https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ US COVID deaths May 11, 2021: 596,181, World deaths 3,320,104 = 18% (17.956%)
Google search:
US population: 328,000,000 (US Census Bureau, Eurostat, World Bank) World population: 7,674,000,000 (World Bank) = 4% (4.274%)

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Monday, April 19, 2021

World Happiness Index 2021; We're Number One?

America's Rank: Incarceration, Happiness and Life Expectancy

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted . . .."
Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

"The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the only legitimate object of good government."
Thomas Jefferson, to Maryland Republicans, 1809, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Memorial Edition, 1903-04

"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of [themselves and their] family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond [their] control."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations, Article 25(1), 1948
A true patriot looks for ways to make America's democracy stronger, and then sets about trying to make it happen. That requires confronting and acknowledging where we're a few cars off the rails. It also requires a little modesty born of a fact-based examination of reality. A patriot knows America is great enough to, borrowing from Jack Nichiolson's line, "handle the truth."

So what about this "We're Number One!! We're Number One!!" business?

We are number one among all nations with some things. In defense spending we're not only number one, we spend approximately what is spent by the next 10 nations combined! [In order: China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and Brazil. See "Comparison: Government Defence Expenditure," countryeconomy.com.]

We're also number one in prison population (2016/2017). We have 2,153,600 prisoners -- roughly 600,000 more than number 2, China (1,561,086). But that's not a fair comparison; the better figure is prisoners per 100,000 population. By that standard we have 6 times more prisoners than China: 662.5 per 100,000 to China's 110.4 per 100,000. [See "Total Prison Population," countryeconomy.com.]


So how are we doing when it comes to the happiness of Americans, and the conditions that contribute to one's happiness, goals that were important to our founders -- and those who wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? [Photo of one-year-old on her birthday, displaying enough happiness to put her well up on anyone's "happiness index."]

America ranks, not "number one!" in happiness, but nineteenth in the list below. How those nations rank in life expectancy is represented in the number following "LE."



1 - Finland - LE 19
2 - Denmark - LE 24
3 - Switzerland - LE 6
4 - Iceland - LE 8
5 - Netherlands - LE 25
6 - Norway - LE 5
7 - Sweden - LE 16
8 - Luxembourg - LE 23
9 - New Zealand - LE 22
10 - Austria - LE 27
11 - Australia - LE 11
12 - Israel - LE 10
13 - Germany - LE 29
14 - Canada - LE 20
15 - Ireland - LE 9
16 - Costa Rica - LE 32
17 - United Kingdom - LE 26
18 - Czech Republic - LE 44
19 - United States - LE 42

It's something to think about; for example, "What do those top 7 nations have that we don't -- and why?" And then? Then try to do something about it.

Sources: World Happiness Index 2021 (click on "Countries" to list countries alphabetically, and "World Happiness Ranking" to list countries by happiness), and World Happiness Report 2021 ("The World Happiness Report is a publication of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, powered by data from the Gallup World Poll and Lloyd’s Register Foundation, who provided access to the World Risk Poll. The 2021 Report includes data from the ICL-YouGov Behaviour Tracker as part of the COVID Data Hub from the Institute of Global Health Innovation."). The "Life Expectancy at Birth" rankings can be found HERE.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Rethinking Electric Vehicles

NEW UPDATE! April 19, 2021. A reader of The Gazette submitted a Letter to the Editor, published April 17, responding to this column. The full text of that Letter, along with Nicholas Johnson's reply, are reproduced below at "Gazette Reader's Response/Letter and My Reply"

Rethinking The Rush Toward Electric Vehicles

Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, April 11, 2021, p. D3
The Gazette Online, April 9, 2021 1:14 pm Updated: Apr. 9, 2021 1:16 pm

My first car was a 1928 Ford Model A roadster. Its roof had been removed, and the body revealed years in a cornfield. Price: $25, but worth it.

In college I saved up and traded up: a $75 four-door Model A.

It’s not a manly confession, but I’m not a car guy. Never built a hot rod. Like Barbra Streisand’s “Second Hand Rose” with her second hand clothes, “I never had a car that wasn’t used.”


Then I heard about electric vehicles (EVs). Drove one over city streets and highways. Loved it. So cool. Smooth ride, silent, saving the environment with every mile. Amazing. [Photo credit: Wikipedia, Tesla Model X, from $79,990 (Plaid configuration, $119,990); I drove a Nissan Leaf, from $31,670]

Until I made the mistake, from the dealer’s perspective, of researching and thinking.

Two questions: 1) Should you buy an EV? 2) Should President Joe Biden spend $174 billion on their promotion — including 500,000 charging stations?

My conclusion on the first? As some Facebook users describe their relationship, “it’s complicated.”

Do you not have to ask the price? (“If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”) Do you have exclusive access to a charging station, or a garage where you can put one? Do you already have a second, conventional car? Would you or your partner only use the EV for errands around town, or commuting distances for which daily, overnight home charging is adequate? To avoid merely substituting coal-generated electricity for petroleum, do you live in one of the most renewable-energy-sourced electricity states? Do you consider the fun of driving an EV a part of their value?

If you can answer “yes” to all those questions an EV may make sense. Whatever you answered, extensive Googling may change your mind.

Mileage and charging times are challenging. Every hour of charging with 120-volts creates power to drive two-to-five miles (96 miles per 24-hour charge). Compare that with three minutes to “fill ‘er up” with gasoline on cross-country trips.

The second question’s answers depend on the goal: a) All Americans using EVs for all driving? b) Benefits from most practical uses of EVs? c) Transportation systems moving humans at lowest possible cost and environmental impact?

The challenges with (a) are suggested in the six questions above. If (b), fleet use (Post Office; UPS) makes the most sense. Amazon has plans to order 100,000 EVs for deliveries. Each vehicle with its own parking space, charging station and enough overnight charge to last through the next day.

(c) But if the goal is moving humans, there are more efficient and environmentally friendly alternatives to filling roads with EV vehicles.

Work from home (as many now do). Office buildings and housing within walking or biking distance. Multiples more public transportation — subways, surface trains, EV buses. Incentives for trading in gas guzzlers.

Friends in a small Swiss town benefit from a sufficiently extensive national rail network, plus buses, to travel efficiently without owning a car — as my sister does in Manhattan.

EVs are now 1 percent of all vehicles. Their future? It’s complicated.

Nicholas Johnson, Iowa City, worked on transportation policy as U.S. Maritime Administrator. mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

SOURCES

Second Hand Rose - lyrics - https://tinyurl.com/ns6z7an9

Biden’s $174B & 500,000 chargers - Niraj Chokshi, “Biden’s Push for Electric Cars: $174 Billion, 10 Years and a Bit of Luck,” New York Times, April 1, 2021, p. B1, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/31/business/biden-electric-vehicles-infrastructure.html (“[Biden] hopes to build half a million chargers by 2030”)

Electricity generation; coal vs. renewable energy; states – Nadja Popovich and Brad Plumer, “How Does Your State Make Electricity?” New York Times, Oct. 28, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/28/climate/how-electricity-generation-changed-in-your-state-election.html; U.S. Department of Energy, “Alternative Fuels Data Center,” https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_production.html

Charging times & chargers cost – “How Much Does It Cost to Install an Electric Vehicle Charging Station at Home?”, fixr, https://www.fixr.com/costs/home-electric-vehicle-charging-station (“Essentially, a Level 1 charger adds roughly 2 to 5 miles of driving range to your car for every hour you charge it.” “Average cost: Level 2 charger with a 240-volt outlet and wall mounting $1200, high cost $4500”)

Marci Houghtlen, “How Much Does a Tesla Home Charger Cost?” MotorBiscuit, January 24, 2021, https://www.motorbiscuit.com/how-much-does-a-tesla-home-charger-cost/ (cost of Tesla EVs, home chargers)

Good video discussion: “5 Reasons You Should (Not) But an Electric Car,” Oct. 7, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gCXv0XTOi0

Dave Vanderwerp, “EV Range: Everything You Need to Know; We explain EPA ratings, factors that affect range, how EVs have performed in our testing, and why it's all very complicated,” Car and Driver, May 22, 2020, https://www.caranddriver.com/shopping-advice/a32603216/ev-range-explained/

Gasoline fill-up time – “Gasoline pump,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_pump#Design (“Light passenger vehicle pump up to about 50 litres (13 US gallons) per minute[4] (the United States limits this to 10 US gallons [38 litres] per minute[5]); pumps serving trucks and other large vehicles have a higher flow rate, up to 130 litres (34 US gallons) per minute in the UK[4] and 40 US gallons (150 litres) in the US. This flow rate is based on the diameter of the vehicle's fuel filling pipe, which limits flow to these amounts.”)

Amazon 100,000 EVs - Mary Meisenzahl, “Amazon's first electric delivery vans are now making deliveries — see how they were designed,” Business Insider, Feb. 3, 2021, https://www.yahoo.com/news/amazon-creating-futuristic-fleet-100-205745513.html (“In October, Amazon showed off the first of its planned custom electric delivery vehicles, with plans to have 10,000 on the road by 2022, and 100,000 by 2030.”)

Non-EV alternatives - Brad Plumer, Nadja Popovich and Blacki Migliozzi, “Electric Cars Are Coming. How Long Until They Rule the Road?” New York Times, March 10, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/03/10/climate/electric-vehicle-fleet-turnover.html (“policies to buy back and scrap older, less efficient cars . . . expanding public transit or encouraging biking and walking, so that existing vehicles are driven less often.”)

EVs 1% of vehicles - Niraj Chokshi, “Biden’s Push for Electric Cars: $174 Billion, 10 Years and a Bit of Luck,” New York Times, April 1, 2021, p. B1, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/31/business/biden-electric-vehicles-infrastructure.html (“electric vehicles remain a niche product, making up just 2 percent of the new car market and 1 percent of all cars, sport-utility vehicles, vans and pickup trucks on the road.”)

Neal E. Boudette and Coral Davenport, "G.M. Will Sell Only Zero-Emission Vehicles by 2035," New York Times, Jan. 29, 2021, p. A1; Jan. 28, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/28/business/gm-zero-emission-vehicles.html ("General Motors said Thursday [Jan 28, 2021] that it would phase out petroleum-powered cars and trucks and sell only vehicles that have zero tailpipe emissions by 2035....")

Gazette Reader's Response/Letter and My Reply

Improving Tech Makes Electric Vehicles a Viable Option
Florence Williams
The Gazette, April 17, 2021, p. A6
The Gazette Online April 16, 2021]

Nicholas Johnson listed considerations one should ponder before purchasing an electric vehicle in his April 11 guest column. However, I found his points rather misleading.

I own a Tesla Model 3 with extended range. I have driven my Tesla to Detroit and back without any range anxiety. Instead of comparing stopping at a gas station to plugging into a 120V plug, which is a standard outlet in your home and only relevant for overnight charging, we should be comparing gas stations to stopping at a supercharger station, which are common at Hy-Vee and Casey’s along major highways. I drive three hours before needing to charge, then it takes me 20 to 40 minutes to charge at a V2 supercharger (V3 are faster, but not common yet). Importantly, you don’t have to stand there waiting with your hand on the nozzle — the car locks the charger in place and you can do as you like. By this three hour point, I usually want a bite to eat or a coffee, so 30 minutes is perfect. Tesla chargers are the gold standard, but this is where all EVs are heading and why there’s so much talk of investing in a high-powered charging network in the US.

Another point, as Mr. Johnson puts it “Do you live in one of the most renewable energy-sourced electricity states?” In Iowa we are 50 percent wind energy, and that number is growing.

Florence Williams

Iowa City
__________

My Response to Florence Williams
Nicholas Johnson
April 19, 2021

First off, thank you Ms. Williams. Like most writers, it's almost always a satisfaction for me to have evidence that someone actually read what I've written. When the response involves the reader making the time and effort to respond in writing, and keeps the language civil (as she clearly has), either with an email or, in this case, with a letter to the editor, that's just all the better.

Second, I don't really take issue with any of the facts she reports regarding her own experience with her Tesla 3. How could I?

Third, I can understand why she might have felt my example of home charging -- in the necessarily truncated discussion of the range of charging problems with EVs in a 500-word column -- was incomplete, or even misleading. I would hope in the context of the entire column (and the "six questions") the reader would understand that all issues regarding EVs depend on who is using the vehicle, where, and for what. As I concluded the piece, "It's complicated."

This specific aside, I do take exception to her assertion, "I found his points rather misleading." Did she really mean to say that all the points made in the column were "misleading"? If so, she needs somewhat more support for that charge. If not, she probably shouldn't have phrased it that way. I'm certainly not opposed to all uses of EVs in all circumstances; quite the contrary. I just think every potential customer needs to do some due diligence regarding an EVs practicality for them.

With the availability of more words than the column permitted, I'll add a few additional details.

As the manufacturers' enthusiasm for EVs, as well as that of EV fans like Florence Williams, reveals -- and my column endeavored to make clear -- there are many Americans for whom EVs make a lot of sense. The consumer's challenge is researching the facts (many suggested by the "six questions") to discover whether their situation and potential uses make them one of those "many Americans."

Central are issues related to charging (time involved, availability of charging stations, how much of a full charge to use) and range.

Take Ms. Williams' example. It is 487 miles from Iowa City to Detroit (7 hours 12 minutes at 69 mph). Tesla says its Tesla 3 can go 353 miles (263 to 353) on a full charge ("Long Range" model, $47,690. Drew Dorian and Joey Capparella, "2021 Tesla Model 3".) But many experts and writers say it's best to hold the charge between 20% and 80% of a full charge -- which would bring the range down to 60% of 353 or 212 miles. (See, e.g., "Charging the battery to only 80% and discharging to 20%, as is typically done on a new EV battery, only utilizes 60% of the capacity." "Battery Aging in an Electric Vehicle (EV); Stretching battery life to the maximum," Battery University, August 22, 2020; "10 Tips to Extend the Life of Your EV Battery," Clipper Creek, March 1, 2018.) Ms. Williams says she recharges after three hours; at 70 mph, and accepting the manufacturer's 212 miles, that would be three hours.

There are many variables when it comes to range: which EV; manufacturers' specs; your speed; flat vs. mountains; temperature (cold can reduce it by a third); age of the battery (the range declines as the battery ages); running the heater or air conditioning.
e.g., "Winter is also unkind to EV range. In 30-degree Detroit temps, my tester got just 65 percent of predicted battery range . . .. Range anxiety is a serious problem for EVs -- especially for the average Chevy customer who uses their steed as primary tranasportation. . . . You see the holes in this idea that everyone will buy electric in 15 years. I'm not buying it. More likely the folks buying the Bolt EV/EUV will be niche customers who . . . only use the EV for daily commutes." Henry Payne, "Second-Gen Chevy Bolt EV Is A Treat; Pity It Isn't a Caddy," Detroit News, March 3, 2021
Another variable is charging speed. A 220V line will charge faster than a 120V. Ms. Williams mentions a Tesla "V2 supercharger" with a "V3" on the way. The question is: What is the optimal charging power and speed when battery life is considered? See, e.g. "Fast-charging can damage electric car batteries in just 25 cycles," Professional Engineering, Institution of Mechanical Engineering, March 12, 2020; Emmanouil D.Kostopoulosa, George C.Spyropoulosab, John K.Kaldellisa, "Real-world study for the optimal charging of electric vehicles," Energy Reports, vol. 6, pp. 418-426, Nov. 2020. Volume 6, November 2020, Pages 418-426

In other words, if you are driving a Tesla, because you can afford the near-$50,000 price tag, your out-of-town travel only requires one recharge before your destination, does not normally occur during cold winter days, involves a route plentifully supplied with Tesla charging stations, and you're willing to do some (if any) damage to your EV battery from fast charges, Ms. Williams experience suggests one more instance in which an EV can do the job.

There are many other situations where an EV makes sense, as I suggested with organizations' fleets of EVs, and individuals local shopping and commuting -- if overnight charging is both always feasible and adequate.

The fact remains, as I concluded the column, that for any given individual, balancing all the questions and issues surrounding EV purchases, while it may be possible, still "It's complicated."

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